BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Twelve minutes.
That's all it took to make Chicago the roadkill of MLS' opening week, as LA forwards Mike Magee and Robbie Keane tore apart cobbled-together Fire defense. That's all it took for the Galaxy to capitalize on their domination of the midfield, scoring three goals from the 68th to the 80th minute. That’s all it took to make 0-0 into 4-0.
“It was a strange feeling after that game,” midfielder Dilly Duka told MLSsoccer.com. “They tallied a few goals at the end and it was quick. Then you look at the scoreboard and it's 4-0. … It definitely took our day off [to recover mentally].”
But the Fire were resolute this week that their confidence hasn't waned heading into Saturday's home opener against New England (7:30 pm ET; NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). The LA result, the players said, was an anomaly.
“I think the LA games was just a one-off thing and they just caught us on a really bad day,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “Guys understand what went wrong and we'll try to rectify it.”
Three new Fire midfielders were being worked into the lineup, along with a new forward. Duka and Nyarko are still working their way into tip-top shape after coming into preseason late. Injuries to Logan Pause and Arne Friedrich meant first-choice backup center back Jalil Anibaba had to play on the right.
As the minutes ticked off in the second half, the Galaxy found their 12-minute opening to carve up a road-weary Fire team. Being at home on Saturday, the Fire hope, will help improve the focus that killed them last week.
“We lost our concentration, that was the key to last Sunday,” Nyarko said.
If the Fire are embarrassed by the Revolution, the alarm bells may ring. But one terrible 12-minute stretch doesn't seem to have them worried about their season.
“We're going to come into this game motivated and try to do something in Toyota Park,” Duka said. “I still feel good about what we've got going on here. One game doesn't hurt a season.”